Rosemary Lee

Rosemary is a choreographer, performer and director. Over the past 25 years, she has created works that are resonant with humanity whether it be her live performances, which are often site specific and involve a cross-section of the community (both professional and non professional dancers), or her short dance films. Much of her previous work explores our relationship with our environment, fusing rural contexts, backdrops and soundscapes in her films, installations and her theatre and large-scale live performances. More recently, Rosemary has begun to reflect on a more urban context, looking at cities in a new way; just as Common Dance was a tribute to the now lost public ‘common ‘ land where people were free to gather, Square Dances used what ‘common’ green spaces we have left in London to gather in a different and innovative way.

  • Image: Without. Photograph: Simon Alleyne
  • Image: Meltdown. Photograph: Hugo Glendinning
  • Image: Meltdown. Photograph: Hugo Glendinning



  • Duration:
  • People on road: 2: Rosemary Lee and Production Manager
  • Freight: No freight necessary
  • Freight details: Screens, projectors and players


During 2012-13, Rosemary worked with Echo-Echo Dance Theatre on the creation of a unique video installation in Derry/Londonderry. Filmed from the city wall, more than 350 local inhabitants – from tea-dancers to skateboarders and school children to cyclists – danced, moved, glided and reclaimed the streets.

The resulting seven-screen video projection with specially commissioned sound score by Graeme Miller, captures both a spectacular panoramic view and an intimate portrait of the city.


  • Duration:
  • People on road: 6-7 (Rosemary Lee/Simon Whitehead + 3 performers + 1 rigger)
  • Freight: No freight necessary
  • Freight details: Rigging equipment, megaphones, additional kit and costumes


Over the past two years, Rosemary and movement artist Simon Whitehead have been developing an idea for a durational performance piece for a group of performer-singers located in a tree. Inhabiting a tree over a number of days they will physically animate its crown and perform a cycle of commissioned songs – special messages – to the passers-by below.

Starting with a core of commissioned songs of varying genres for the founding tree in the first location, Tree-Call will accumulate songs, as it travels to further trees in other towns and cities. In addition, invited guests – writers, thinkers and local ‘elders’ – will be invited to contribute improvised scores, poems and messages.

Melt Down

  • Duration:
  • People on road: 2
  • Freight: No freight necessary


Melt Down was originally one of a quartet of short pieces performed in open spaces in central London that combined to make up Square Dances.

Specially commissioned for Dance Umbrella 2011, Melt Down was performed by a group of 40 men under a massive tree. Over ten minutes, with a single toll of the bell marking each minute, the group slowly, almost imperceptibly, ‘melted down’ to the ground. Countless images pass through the viewer’s mind battle, human frailty and the resilience of the human spirit, to name but a few.

A deceptively simple yet powerful work, choreographer Rosemary Lee reworks this idea for different contexts incorporating a group of local professional and non-professional performers. The actual composition of the group can vary – 30-50 men aged 20-65 but could alternatively work with women or even teenagers. Performed four or five times a day along a trail of locations in the city – eg. under trees / in squares or public spaces/ perhaps even places a that have a political/social significance.

Rosemary would want to explore locations within the city and discuss specific themes that the festival might be interested in pursuing.

Wraparound work

Workshops, residencies, teaching, screenings, post-show discussions.

Press Comments & Testimonials

“We sensed their uniqueness and multiplicity, as well as their common humanity. It was revelatory – like being shown both a wood and its trees – and could only have worked with this mixed and motley cast.”  

Sanjoy Roy, The Guardian, on Common Dance and Square Dances

“Evanescent. The result was complete, unselfconscious magic. Beautifully realised and transporting.”

Donald Hutera, The Times, on Common Dance and Square Dances

"Its finished state transcends the complexities of its own creation. It’s brilliantly shot and edited in ways that maximise its human and political resonance... This indelibly magical work is full of grace and grit."

Donald Hutera, ANIMATED on Without

“Moving beyond words. People talk about legacy a lot particularly with regards to this city – this film is the definition of legacy. Beautiful.” 

Gilly Campbell, Arts Council Northern Ireland, on Without

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Artistic Director(s)

Rosemary Lee

Contact details

Nicky Childs

Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
E1 6AB

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